Skip’s Quips: Je Refuse … to Watch ‘The Boxtrolls’

Blog Sketch 082813Gosh, The Boxtrolls looks horrible.

Saw a preview for it recently. Not funny. OK, maybe the funny bits were cut out of the trailer. But wait a second … aren’t the trailers supposed to include the funny bits? You know, to make people wanna see the movie?

The lack of humor in the preview suggests to me that the film is going to be a dud. Yes, I’ve been wrong plenty of times before. Yes, the trailers aren’t always a foolproof way of determining the worth of a picture. But for some reason, this rubs me the wrong way.

It has to do, to a certain extent, with the dearth of good children’s movies out there today. Kids’ fare is often loud, cartoony, with flashy visuals and little heart. The soul that is instilled into much of the pictures for tykes today is junky, flat, clich├ęd. I get the feeling that The Boxtrolls isn’t going to be any different. Its splashiness seems superficial. And it won’t hide the fact that the plot is ordinary.

So I’m not going to see it. I already know what it’s going to be like. Sure, you can say that I shouldn’t judge a picture before I see it, but I can tell I won’t enjoy this one. It’s a box I refuse to open. And I’m proud to say I’m doing just that.

Setter’s ‘Spectives: ‘Sesame Street,’ the ‘Crack Master’ and Me

Setter Drawing for Blog 082613Last night, I watched something I hadn’t seen in more than 30 years.

It was an imaginative animated short that appeared on Sesame Street when I was a kid, so you know it was long ago. In it, a young woman lying on her bed imagines the crack on her wall to be various friendly animals: a camel, a hen and a monkey. She travels with them through the wall and finds what is hoped to be a new pal but turns out to be the “Crack Master,” a horrible, frowning face made of cracks. This “Crack Master” then is “destroyed” as the plaster that makes up his visage falls to the ground because he is “mean.”

Whoa, right? What a trip.

Actually, this short frightened me practically to death as a young child; I remember running out of the room when it was on so I didn’t have to see it. There was something about the face of the “Crack Master” that bothered me, as well as the idea of cracks coming to life. But in watching it last night, I did something I’ve been unable to do for decades: Conquer my fear. The scares of childhood weren’t, thankfully, there. Just the remnants of memories.

This clip has some notoriety; apparently I wasn’t the only kid to be horrified by it years ago. It remains a very creative piece: stark but well-realized, despite the eerie subject matter. You can decide for yourself whether all my fears were warranted by watching it here:

Skip’s Quips: Theory of ‘Frozen’

Blog Sketch 082813I think the reason Frozen was such a hit was marketing.

Ads for the animated film were all over TV. They got people to see it.

But I’m not sure why so many people liked it. I thought the script was dreadful and the songs mediocre. Plus, it was highly, highly unfunny, especially the character of the live, talking, happy-go-lucky snowman. It’s highly possible that the execrable Jar Jar Binks in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace was a more humorous, better developed character.

OK, the computer animation was quite well done in Frozen; that was no surprise. Yet the film seemed artificial, manufactured, as if devised specifically for a certain audience and peppered with hip dialogue and silly situations. It didn’t have an organic quality, and the songs just made it worse.

I’m in the minority on this, I know. Frozen was a huge success. Yet that doesn’t necessarily equate quality, and in that light, the movie doesn’t make the cut for me.

Disney can do better than this, methinks.

Skip’s Quips: Building a Case for ‘The Lego Movie’

Blog Sketch 082813What audience is The Lego Movie trying to reach?

I only ask because, after seeing it last night, I’m thinking most of it will be over the head of your average 7-year-old.

It’s a pretty subversive flick, believe it or not. Full of frenetic jokes that only elder folk such as myself will get. And it doesn’t get all Hollywood sentimental until the end, though it seems like an organic conclusion.

But what are we to make about humorous references to “illiteracy” in a fantasy-themed Legoland or a male character eyeing a female one as she’s talking and only hearing “blah, blah, blah” or someone paying $37 for “overpriced” coffee?

I’ll tell you one thing: The kids in the theater where I saw this film weren’t laughing constantly. In fact, oftentimes they were pretty subdued. And I don’t think a children’s cartoon is supposed to do that.

Unless, say, it’s Watership Down … which isn’t really for children, anyway.

So where is The Lego Movie going? Hit or miss? It’s difficult to say. It’s going to have to get that adult audience, too, if it’s going to be successful. I’m not sure children are going to want to come back to see it.

But what do I know? I didn’t think that about Bambi, either.